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Comic cons

Brussels comic con : Report

Our tour starts with the comic con in Brussels. It’s the first time that Emile (my boyfriend) and I go there. Until then, we’d only been to FACTS and Paris Manga (hateful comic con). I’ve also done some small conventions in hotels, I prefered those to comic cons because the atmosphere is more intimate but without extras, damn it, we’re bored. Nowadays, I’m more into comic cons, you don’t have time to get bored, it allows you to meet guests from different shows and all that for a much more reasonable price than small conventions.

This year, with Emile, we challenged ourselves to do a comic cons tour in Europe (as long as we are interested in the guests present) and we officially started this challenge with the CCBX which took place on the weekend of February 22nd and 23rd, 2020.
A lot of guests were present at this convention, but it’s for Carice Van Houten who plays the mysterious Red Woman in Game Of Thrones and Holly Marie Combs a.k.a Piper Halliwell in the timeless series “Charmed” that we made the trip.

Here’s what happened


Saturday 22/02/2020
7:00 am: The alarm clock rings, followed by another one at 7:10, 7:15, 7:30, Emile is still inanimate while I had time to urinate and brush my teeth. With difficulty, he ends up opening one eye, only one. The second one will follow one minute later.

7:40 a.m.: Careful, he tries to get up. It’s so hard that we could almost think he’s revalidating. At the same time I, as usual, am bursting with energy. My stress-o-meter is at maximum, I’m stressing like it’s my first convention. Yeah no, a little less. At my first convention, I had my head in the toilet until it was time to go.
8:30: We’re about to leave. Emile is ready before me, even though I was up before him and asked him repeatedly to hurry. Damn it! You know what we say, karma is a b****.
9:30 am: We are in line to enter the convention building at Tour & Taxis. The line is huge and we are all outside in the cold. The worst part is that the wind is blowing my hair out. I had 2 photoshoots that day so it was not the time to get my hair messed up.

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10:15 am: After about 45 minutes of queuing, we finally enter the building. This is where the Brussels comic con really starts for us.
Wow, it’s huge, as big as the queue. Everything is decidedly disproportionate in Brussels! There are no less than 4 halls full of stands, at least twenty of them selling mainly Funko Pop and other figurines. The stands are nothing new compared to other comic cons. There are also animations ranging from Just Dance to virtual reality games.
The room we like the most is the one decorated with a poster with “G U E S T S” written in capital letters. This is where we start our experience. Actually, we started at the toilets, but it’s less exciting.

We didn’t have autographs but we just wanted to see the actors arrive at their tables. Holly Marie Combs was already there, like a kid I couldn’t stop admiring her and I was annoyed by the fans behind me calling her “Piper”. I have the feeling that many come to meet a character and not the actor who plays the character. It’s a bit silly, even more than that.

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credit : Jean Grenson

 

Carice Van Houten arrives, a vintage jacket and her hair a bit tousled, I love it. It reflects her personality: an authentic person, funny and who doesn’t care what people think of her.
After seeing that the two actresses, for whom we had made the trip, were there, we set off to explore the other rooms.

Yes it’s psychological, in convention, the first thing I do is always go and check if the actors I want to meet are really there. And the day before, I check their Instagram. When I said I was stressed, I wasn’t kidding.
Anyway, there are several rooms but they’re filled up everywhere. You can barely move around.

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We decide to stop at the booth that offers an VR animation that will end up making Emile dizzy. Then, we climb on the Harry Potter Nimbus 2000 which ejects us after 25 seconds and 45 seconds, I won’t say who made the lowest score.

Spoiler: That’s me.

 

12:30: Time definitely flies in convention. Yeah, it’s probably also because I didn’t mention my trips back and forth looking for a terminal to withdraw money because after seeing Carice and Holly, I wanted to crack for an extra with them. I still have that, no self-control once I get there. I’m suddenly moved to see these actors/actresses for real and I want to spend the day with them.

 

1:30pm: We have a photoshoot with Carice at 2pm, so it’s time to get in line to avoid being too far in this one. I’m amazed by Carice’s line, which doesn’t seem so long to me, considering the importance of her character in Game Of Thrones. I had made the same observation at the autographs. Having said that, I’m not complaining because it will be profitable to us later. Read on to find out!

There are 5 people left before our turn, I repeat 5 PEOPLE ! For Emile as for myself, the pressure is on. Carice is beautiful, she has taken off her vintage jacket and is dressed in a dress with floral patterns.

It’s our turn, deep inspiration and here we go. We ask her to do a pose, not very complicated, just a hug with her in the middle. She gladly accepts! The photographer takes the picture, the result appears directly on a screen for Carice and ourselves to check if it suits us. Carice makes a funny face on the picture, she’s not sure we like it. Personally, I like it, but my double chin comes out on the picture so I ask to do it again and it looks like this:

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Adorable, isn’t it?
We don’t have much time left before the photoshoot with Holly Marie Combs. So we stay in the guest hall, that’s what interests us the most anyway. Indeed, we are not too interested in everything that is video games, manga, … It’s really the cinema/television part that we like ! There were some nice animations around the cinema like a dilapidated hut with some zombies (The Walking Dead) or the reproduction of the giant spider from Harry Potter. Emile was able to meet a nice cosplay of professor McGonagall with whom he wanted to share a picture :

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credit : Emile Haven

So we were there waiting for Holly’s photoshoot and to pass the time, we went to Keegan Connor Tracy’s table to have a little chat with her. It was mostly Emile who made the conversation since it turns out that she and he have a few things in common.

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credit Google

Then Carice came back and we did the same thing, a little stop for a conversation. Again, Emile couldn’t stop talking but it was nice to see. Anyway, I couldn’t talk and it wasn’t for lack of trying. It’s not that I can’t speak English, I know. But I lack practice in speaking and then in front of people I’m used to seeing behind my screen, I’m always too impressed to have a long conversation.
3:25 pm: A staff member calls all the people for Holly Marie Combs photoshoot. This time, the line is longer. We wait more or less 40 minutes before our turn. As usual, Holly is incredibly kind:

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Review of the day’s photoshoots: Although these moments are always very short, they’re just magic. And at the end of the day, we get the 2 most successful photos since I started the conventions!
4:15 pm : We go back to Carice’s table because she told us to come back later for something, you’ll soon know and don’t cheat by looking below !

Carice went on break when we arrive.

It will take her almost 1 hour before she comes back, it’s rare when guests take so much break time I want to point out. Due to the small number of fans who came to see her, she took a longer break. I’m not saying that there weren’t a lot of fans, just that personally I expected a lot more! Sometimes Carice was there and there were only 5 people for her.

Around 5:10 pm: Carice comes back, we go to talk to her and get this beautiful selfie, for free!

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credit : Emile Haven

I still want to thank her very much for this gesture because she didn’t make selfies and if she had made selfies, it would have paid off because nothing is free at comic cons. And yet, she was willing to make one without asking anything at all. It’s the first time that this happened to me, receiving free, in a convention!
5:30 pm: The day ends for us. Comic cons are great but how fucking exhausting they’re!
Sunday 23/02/2020
Initially, we weren’t supposed to come on Sunday. When the convention schedule was put online, we had to make up our minds to buy a ticket on Sunday because Carice & Holly Q&A’s were only held on Sunday. As well as David Bradley’s Q&A, which Emile loves, he doesn’t love the actor but the person, it’s even more beautiful.
9:30 am: We arrive at Tour & Taxis, the queue is almost non-existent. So we wait 10 am for the doors to open. At 10:05, we are there. Let’s go for this second day!

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I said I would do it in the end and I did it. I cracked. So here I am in line for an autograph from Holly Marie Combs. It wasn’t so much the autograph that interested me, to be honest, I didn’t even care. I just wanted to have a moment with the star of Charmed and some content for a little video that I’ll probably publish within a week!

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credit : Emile Haven

I could have gone and talked to Holly without buying anything, it’s true, but the staff member in charge of the actress was, to be polite, incredibly annoying.
After Holly, it’s Emile’s turn to get in line, he goes to see Carice, again. The night before, I discovered videos of the Game Of Thrones actress that made Emile laugh a lot and he wanted to go and talk to her about it. More content for our video!

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credit : Jean Grenson

We loved her the day before, seeing no one in her line, it is with a huge smile that we return to see Keegan. And to my surprise, Emile paid for a selfie with her. Emile paid for an extra at a convention. He did. I converted him! That’s not all, later that day, just before Carice’s panel, he went to the guest hall for a selfie with David Bradley, so he was ready to buy his second extra !!! But he was discouraged by the line. The End.

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credit : Emile Haven

He told me that  the next time he’ll see David, he’ll buy a picture with him. I didn’t say anything but in my head, I had thoughts very close to those of a mother proud of her child’s first steps. My Emile is baptized, it’s beautiful to see.

 

 

11:20 am: Time passes even faster than the day before, we go to the Q&A’s hall to wait for Holly Marie Combs’ Q&A. It was scheduled for 12:00 but to make sure we were all ahead, we went 40 minutes early and watched Khary Payton’s Q&A known for The Walking Dead.

 

 

12h: Holly arrives on stage, not even late! The panel lasts 30 minutes, it was a great time. Holly is very funny. She said something that spoke to me a lot : In your job, when you think you’re good enough, you can stop your career because when you think that then you stop progressing. We are never good enough in what we do, we can always evolve.

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credit : Emile Haven

12:30pm: LUNCH BREAK. Direction the chill zone to eat our sandwich next to a man who snores as loudly as the crowd around us.

 

 

1:15 p.m.: Here we go again. Let’s go for a little walk, I start looking for “Charmed” comics. I didn’t find any stand selling anything from “Charmed” universe, which I find crazy because the main actress of the series was present at the comic con. Stands often only sell Game Of Thrones, Harry Potter, Dr Who, Star Wars items. It’s not very varied and it’s the same for all the comic cons.
2pm: It’s time to settle down for the next Q&A, David Bradley’s (which will make Emile want to buy a selfie with him). Although I didn’t care, I found the Q&A interesting for the diversity of the questions David received. Indeed, I was expecting questions about Harry Potter and a bit of Game Of Thrones, I was surprised when he received questions about almost all the projects he has been involved in! The fans present at the Q&A were indeed fans of the actor and not of a character.

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credit : Jean Grenson

I liked the master of ceremonies too. Contrary to the duet that animated the other stage, this one left the audience ask questions from the beginning until the end.
2:50 p.m : The Q&A ends, direction the other stage for Carice Van Houten. Once again, we arrive in advance to be well placed. Emile goes to the guest hall and back for a selfie that he will be discouraged to do.

 

 

A Harry Potter animation takes place next to the stage. 3 cosplays (Voldemort, Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix) parade around with a backdrop of a French excerpt from the film. They did it about ten times in 30 minutes and the same audience kept watching.

I still don’t understand today.
3.30pm: The annoying duo arrive on stage, followed by Carice! We first watch a chat between the 3 of them for 15 minutes before they decide to let the audience speak.

 

The Q&A is interesting, the actress has a lot to tell. People often see her as someone cold, she says, due to the characters she has played and she is quite the opposite, that’s why she would love to act in comedies. She is a very simple person who is not looking for international recognition, in fact she would even prefer to make a career in films that are in her own mother tongue, Dutch.

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credit : Emile Haven

After the Q&A, we go back to the guest hall for Emile to take his selfie with David. Unfortunately, David had already left… Told you!

That’s the end of the CCBX for us. I was a little disappointed and angry at him that he didn’t go and do the selfie as I had told him while waiting for Carice’s Q&A.

Why? After all, it’s not my problem but I was disappointed because it’s the first time I saw him letting loose in comic con to the point of wanting to pay for an extra. Until not so long ago, he didn’t understand why I was spending so much money on extras with actors and actresses. That’s why I was disappointed, seeing him just enjoy and don’t think about anything made me very happy so imagine when he came back to me, without anything how I could feel, it was the emotional lift.
Well that said, he still do it with Keegan, that’s true.

I digress. About the CCBX, I was pleasantly surprised, the day before I was still saying that it was going to be shit. I used those words, so I’m transcribing them, excuse my language.

Well not at all! It’s a very good comic con, we were quite free to go and just talk with the guests, everything was very well organized.

A few imperfections like scene 1 which had no bench, everyone was standing up, glued together like in a jar. The duo of presenters was happy, too much happy that it became infernal. They didn’t let the audience speak much, and that’s a big negative point. We are used to seeing actors being interviewed. On the other hand, we don’t get much opportunity to ask them questions, so it was more than important that the audience had a place.

I don’t have a lot of negative criticism to add, except maybe the waiting outside but I don’t know if that’s a problem the organisers can solve so I’ll leave it at that.

I’d like to end this report by thanking the CCBX, the team behind it all. The actors who made the trip, thank you for the memories. Thank you for this first convention which marks the beginning of our tour, we hope to add the weekend of August 29th to our agenda.

I’m looking forward to the rest of our adventures, may they come quickly, but not too much, let’s say at a moderate speed because once we’re there, god damn it, it goes by fast.

What did you think of the Brussels comic con? Leave your comments here or elsewhere. If you also write about the events you’re going to, send me the link!

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J.Grenson

By jeangrenson

IG : @jeangrensoncca
YTB : JeanCCA

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